Sunday, October 2, 2011

The New 52: Justice League #1 & Batgirl #1

I wasn't planning on jumping into the New 52  DC Comics reboot as I'm more of a trade paperback kinda guy- they are a better value, and I'm a little miffed about the price of these. What happened to "Drawing the line at $2.99", DC?? Anyway, I'm always reading a pile of comics, being fresh back into them in the last year, and have been catching up on the 2 decades of comics I missed, the Silver & Bronze Age origins published before & right after I was born, and the work I missed while narrow-mindedly reading only Batman comics in high school. The shelves of books I've been reading in the past 12 months would blow your mind- I've quickly become a serious student of comic books. While other peers my age have been going back to school, I've expanding my knowledge of the history of comics- something I've always loved. But I thought I'd at least get a taste of these becuase it looked like fun and I'm the sporting type, and I was never offended at the idea of a reboot of the DC Universe. In spite of the public outcry, this seems to be going swimmingly for DC.

The Bubbs was lukewarm on Justice League in deciding what to follow among the New 52 title, but I'm really into the whole supergroup vibe, and so I'm feeling like I will be following this for now. I really like Jim Lee's artwork, and enjoyed author Geoff Johns' work on the Blackest Night books. As usual, I was late for the dance on the whole damned relaunch, but stumbled upon a lone copy at The Fantasy Shop- the clerk told me she loved it, and so did I. But hey- I dig on Justice League, so...

 The heroes moments of discovering one another are a lot of fun, and intact remain a lot of the character's personality traits: Hal Jordan's egotism & impatient bravado, Batman's fearlessness, deductive mind, & skepticism,  and for the brief moment introduced at the end, Superman's sheer power & confidence. Hal almost can't believe the existence of Batman upon discovering he's tracking the very same unauthorized extra terrestrial in his designated space sector. While he's following the Dark Knight detective around asking questions, Batman is casing the dangerous visitor while figuring the Green Lantern out from the ring up, which is unknowingly removed from Hal's finger by Batman himself at one point.

So far there have been no origin flashbacks, thankfully, and there really does seem to be a renewed sense of  discovery in these powerful and "unknown" heroes. I get a tingle thinking about some kid reading about these characters right here in this book for the first time, and have done my best to think fresh in this way while reading. And that's no easy feat, even for an open minded artistic type such as myself, recently "reborn" into comics, harder yet for the cynical fanboy that was never down with the reboot.

Before meeting him, Batman has already expressed a distrust of the alien Kal-El to Hal, who whisks him away to Metropolis on a green jet construct produced by his power ring in search of the mysterious Superman. Hal's arrogance & lack of subtlety are quickly doused with disdain by the god-like Kryptonian. The last page below is one of my favorites, heralding further conflict with the two Earthlings that are about to discover the Man of Steel. What do I think of the new costume? It's fine, whatever... Look, if they're gonna do a reboot, they had to tweak the costumes. Like BubbaShelby said, the red shorts were a nice visual break from a design standpoint, and Chris Reeve in that red & blue outfit will always be the vision of my childhood superhero. That said, I love Jim Lee's figurative work, and all the thin section lines throughout the bodysuit. This looks cool...

Later the same day I found a pile of Batgirl #1 at a Toys 'R Us on the same day- it was $2.99... why the difference?? Lookit that cover by Adam Hughes- outstanding!!

And the splash page is pretty good too, though there seems to be something slightly off, or "squeezed in about the perspective on the right leg/foot to my eye. The old figure drawing student in me would have put a bent knee there, which is what my eye initially registered anyway. Previously unknown to myself, Ardian Syaf did some otherwise serviceable penciling in this book. I'll  be honest, it wasn't my favorite- after veiwing Jim Lee's masterful command in the Justice League #1, Syaf's pencils looked average, the panels somewhat crowded, and the figures a little rigid on some pages. Batgirl's pretty face is drawing perfectly every time however, lovingly rendered like a childhood memory.

Right out of my old Killing Joke TPB I had in high school, Barbara's violent past with the Joker is remembered in flashback. By now you've heard that instead of becoming Oracle, she is rehabilitated and carries on as Batgirl, where this retconned history of our heroine picks up from. Fresh into her return as Batgirl, a rejuvenated Barbara Gordon faces off with Gotham's masked "Brisbay Killers", saving a their intended prey & surviving by the skin of her teeth. But when Batgirl answers to one of her father's texts alerting to an emergency at Gotham Hospital, the mysterious "Mirror", who asks his victims why they survived previous brushes with death before murdering them, shakes our girl's confidence pointing a gun at her spine. Batgirl freezes freezes recalling the fateful day Joker sentenced her to a wheelchair, one of the Brisbay killers she just brought in and some cops are murdered by the Mirror, and the police blame her for his getaway. It was a rough return for our heroine, and it looks like a long road back to her glory days as Batman's star pupil, as Barbara Gordon is the next victim shown on the Mirror's list- someone Batgirl will need to save if this is all going to work out.

More Later- Make It FUN!


  1. I don't buy comic books anymore i haven't in years and if i did i would be with you on this Super-D the trades are a better bargain in the long run. And personally am not all for sure of this DCU "reboot" to be honest its like they are once again wiping away history and trying to start fresh. I keep thinking Ultimates here but with out a normal Universe to fall back on but still there is positive feed on this from the likes of yourself,Bubba and more. I guess it is going to be a wait and see deal plus its great for DC as sales are up so lets see if they stay high in the coming months ahead.

  2. My wife and I picked up 15 of the new books, including these two, and I've read at least another 10. Overall, while I agree it's bittersweet losing continuity, I have to admit I'm more likely to collect a series I can start at the beginning, whether it's the beginning of a story arc or title. Relaunching the whole universe at once meant that was easy.

    I thought Justice League was a solid, Ultimates-style relaunch, sort of re-imagining the team as a summer movie. Originally, I was planning on collecting a few more issues, but that changed as more titles came out. It's good, but there are far better, most of which are at the $2.99 price point.

    If you have an opportunity, check out Action Comics, Animal Man, Batman (the one written by Scott Snyder: there are three other Batman titles that aren't as good), Batwoman, Demon Knights, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman: all are fantastic.

    I have mixed feeling about Batgirl. I'm going to get at least a few more issues, because Babs is my single favorite comic book character, and Gail Simone is one of my favorite writers these days. That said, I found the first issue underwhelming, largely because I felt it was too focused on her past to be as much fun as it should. Still, I have faith Simone will pull this off given a few issues.

  3. i also have mixed feelings about Batgirl, but ... i missed the boat on Batman & Action Comics- ugh! ...supposed to be another printing (fingers crossed. Also interested in Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman & Batwoman, but I have a lot of TPBs I want to read, so we'll see

  4. I have promo the comic with a sneak peak of JL 1 and a complete checklist of all 52 releases.I really want JL1 and Hawk and Dove looks to be pretty cool as well.Like i've said before i know very little about the DC universe but this reboot should aid me quite a bit!

  5. AHH finally made it on your "Blogs Of Note" list,this truly is an honor;)Thanks SDTB!

  6. thought i had you on ther & realized recently i didn't actionfig- looking forward to seeing more of what's going on over there ;)